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Contact: Sally Hurlbert, 540-999-3500 ext. 3280
Contact: Claire Comer, 540-999-3500 ext. 3183
The 500-acre Jarman Gap prescribed burn in Shenandoah National Park was successfully completed on Wednesday and Thursday, April 10-11. Assistant Fire Management Officer John Fry reported that "prescribed fire objectives were achieved." Fry added that local residents and visitors will continue to see smoke from within the burn area over the next several days.
The Jarman Gap prescribed burn goals were to reduce hazardous fuels and the threat of a major wildfire. The fire will also help to promote oak and pine regeneration, additional animal food sources, and increased plant diversity. The forest of chestnut oak and three types of pine - Virginia, pitch, and table mountain - provides valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife.
Firefighters successfully contained three spot fires that occurred outside of the planned burn area, but within the park's boundary. They were assisted by water drops from a helicopter staged at Shenandoah Valley Airport by the National Park Service and other agencies during peak fire season. Crews will work today to clear a small portion of the A.T. and Turk Branch Trail, both temporarily closed due to the spot fires.
During the burn, firefighters discovered two black bear cubs who had been injured in the fire. Both were treated by staff at the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV), but one succumbed to injuries. The second cub remains in their care and is expected to survive.Once released from the WCV, park staff will work with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to place the cub with a wild nursing female bear.Park Superintendent Jim Northup said, "We deeply regret the injuries to these two bears, but overall we are very pleased with the outcome of this burn."
The prescribed burn was a multi-agency effort with firefighters and other resources from across the region. Local support came from Dooms and Wilson Fire Departments.